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todd n clare

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  1.  
  2. Todd and Clare Online Dating: How a DySLeXiC Midwest Couple MARRIED 3,000 Women
  3.  
  4. Todd Hammond
  5.  
  6. First Published in the United States of America
  7.  
  8. 2015 Todd Hammond. All right reserved.
  9.  
  10. ISBN 10: 1-944243-88-7
  11. ISBN 13: 978-1-944243-88-3
  12.  
  13. Published by Traffic Sail Press
  14.  
  15. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without written
  16.  
  17. permission of the author.
  18.  
  19. Todd and Clare’s Dating Network: https://www.toddandclare.com
  20.  
  21. Traffic Sail Press website: https://trafficsail.com
  22.  
  23. CONTENTS
  24.  
  25. Preface
  26. Dedication
  27. God Bless These United States of America
  28. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
  29. Chateau du Lude—C’est Magnifique!
  30. 3,001 Couples and Counting
  31.  
  32. PREFACE
  33.  
  34. On setting up the Todd and Clare website after nearly 4 full years as an email-exclusive network matching friends
  35.  
  36. in different cities, I thought now was the right time to make use of the information logged throughout the years
  37.  
  38. in our agency scrap books which had been occupying valuable space in the space bedroom and office!
  39.  
  40. I had not started writing these with this in mind, but now I had collated such a lot of history about mine and
  41.  
  42. Clare’s journey and the many families and happy couples that Clare’s original idea had brought together; I felt
  43.  
  44. all these memories should not go to waste.
  45.  
  46. So, over a glass of Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, one stifling summer’s day in the middle of a Californian
  47.  
  48. heatwave, I began to write….
  49.  
  50. Dedicated to our much loved daughter, Rahne.
  51.  
  52.  
  53. 1 GOD BLESS THESE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
  54.  
  55. “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I
  56.  
  57. also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” — 1
  58.  
  59. CORINTHIANS 1 3: 1 2
  60.  
  61. In cupid’s love matches, 2013 was a harvest year. Pembroke, Massachusetts, the beautiful country town south of
  62.  
  63. Boston hadn't seen a more delicious summer in years, when our dear friends Molly and Kevin tied the knot in
  64.  
  65. church. One doesn't usually get so excited about your friends’ marrying; however, when those friends met on your
  66.  
  67. own dating network, recommended through friends, it gives an entirely different perspective.
  68.  
  69. News of wedding bells indeed makes us jump for joy, and we've done so since Todd and Clare began life in 2011,
  70.  
  71. thousands of times. The moment we hear another couple has wed, we
  72. smile wider and more deliriously than an entrepreneur signing a venture capital deal.
  73.  
  74. For with God's love, Todd and Clare wasn't set up to make money at all. Back then in 2013, two years after it had
  75.  
  76. begun life on my wife's iMac as an email network for Clare’s college and post-college girlfriends, it was simply
  77.  
  78. an end in itself.
  79.  
  80. A thing of beauty and joy.
  81.  
  82. A dating circle only for invited singles, so much more intimate and personal than the hundreds of dating sites out
  83.  
  84. there crammed full of strangers. Todd and Clare was started to make the lives of my wife's friends, our friends,
  85.  
  86. happier and more fulfilling. Is there a higher standard of love for one’s neighbor and fellow human being?
  87.  
  88. As friends, and Christians, we founded the Todd and Clare dating network, that has subsequently brought together
  89.  
  90. both traditional and modern unions of marriage across our great nation.
  91.  
  92. Please let me begin telling you the story of Todd and Clare starting with how we witnessed our first marriage; an
  93.  
  94. emotional but exciting trip for us. Kevin is a radiologist from Pembroke, MA, who back in 2013 was living in
  95.  
  96. Philly on an institutional sabbatical. It was in Philly he contacted Molly, an attorney and single looking for
  97.  
  98. love, through Todd and Clare’s Philadelphia network. Molly had been invited to join Todd and Clare through her
  99.  
  100. cousin who was a 2nd connection friend of Clare. Like all women on Todd and Clare, an initial invite is required
  101.  
  102. from a female relative, female work colleague, or 1st, 2nd, or 3rd connection girlfriend, who is an existing
  103.  
  104. member. We haven't changed that to this day.
  105.  
  106. After the initial email contact, Molly and Kevin first arranged to do lunch at Chink’s steakhouse in Philly, back
  107.  
  108. when Chink’s hadn't changed its name to ]oe’s to satisfy the city’s political correctness critics. The couple met
  109.  
  110. over Philly steak sandwiches, as Molly said: “It was basically love at first sight.”
  111.  
  112. Getting married in Pembroke, Kevin's home town, was an exciting prospect for Molly and touching down in Boston
  113.  
  114. Logan airport, 2 days before the wedding, one couldn't help but have butterflies that Todd and Clare had achieved
  115.  
  116. its first major win. Of all the couples who were getting engaged—Molly and Kevin were actually getting hitched!
  117.  
  118. Clare and myself with many of the other wedding guests entered the arrivals lounge of Logan Airport on the stroke
  119.  
  120. of six o'clock EST, where Molly and Kevin met us with a bouquet of flowers. It was surreal and the kindest gesture
  121.  
  122. ever from this beautiful couple.
  123.  
  124. After managing to pile our cases (Clare always packs too much) on the roof rack on top of their SUV, we were off
  125.  
  126. to Kevin's parents’ house via some very scenic routes. “We can’t have you stay in a hotel,” Kevin remarked
  127.  
  128. repeatedly to us after the invite. “You guys are the reason we're even here!”
  129.  
  130. And so, with Clare’s teacher's homework from the middle school she had taken the weekend off to attend the
  131.  
  132. Pembroke wedding, we acquiesced to stay with Kevin's family which was an experience like no other. It felt like
  133.  
  134. the fourth of July! On arrival we were made very welcome by all the family and proceeded to have a barbecue on the
  135.  
  136. back porch in true Boston style.
  137.  
  138. Kevin's folk’s bungalow was pretty with swathes of idyllic land all around, so although it was on an estate the
  139.  
  140. family’s privacy was not overlooked. After long conversations including the giving of presents (they gave Clare an
  141.  
  142. eternity friendship ring!) and our gifts to the happy pair getting ready to join married life we were able to take
  143.  
  144. in the local beauty of Pembroke. Our only regret is that we didn’t bring our daughter Rahne along to experience
  145.  
  146. the love we were surrounded by in Pembroke.
  147.  
  148. After a good night’s sleep followed by a “famous Boston” breakfast of scrambled eggs on toast, cooked for us by
  149.  
  150. Kevin's mom, a day before the wedding we were able to do some shopping, and collected a unique pottery Angel that
  151.  
  152. Clare keeps to this day on her mantelpiece to remind her of this first special wedding result from the Todd and
  153.  
  154. Clare network.
  155.  
  156. That morning we watched Kevin and Molly say their farewells to unmarried, singleton life, and set off to return
  157.  
  158. back to Kevin's parents’ house with the growing wedding party. We were surprised to see Molly's parents there, who
  159.  
  160. had flown in from JFK to be present, with more love and good wishes. All the men in Molly's family were now
  161.  
  162. together in the same room and looked very smart complete with their leather shoes, formal ties and cummerbunds.
  163.  
  164. Kevin's trousers were half an inch short and needed some alteration, but there was still plenty of time.
  165.  
  166. We got to peek Molly's elegant and flowing white wedding dress the day before, and she looked just like Princess
  167.  
  168. Diana. Molly's sister, Sam, would be singing at the wedding ceremony and had chosen to sing a duo of “]esu, joy of
  169.  
  170. Man's Desiring” (at the moment their friends and family entered the church) followed by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s
  171.  
  172. “Love Changeth Everything” from the Broadway musical “Aspects of Love” during the service in Pembroke.
  173.  
  174. The wedding service planned to end with an arrangement of The Lord's Prayer. The rehearsal went very well and Sam
  175.  
  176. hoped she would be able to perform as well at the ceremony as she was sure her nerves would be tingling!
  177.  
  178. One day to go before D-Day (or rather W-Day) and we were all nervous! We joined Molly's family for their
  179.  
  180. “rehearsal dinner”, this being a Pembroke tradition. Apparently, such was the meticulous planning of this wedding,
  181.  
  182. they had chosen the venue weeks before from a shortlist of options and all the friends, including ourselves who
  183.  
  184. were now feeling like part of Kevin and Molly's family, were at the rehearsal by RSVP. The turkey dinner with all
  185.  
  186. the trimmings was fantastic and all the guests were appreciative, a wonderful time for the preparations of the
  187.  
  188. bride and bridesmaids to be surrounded in so much love.
  189.  
  190. Finally, the great day had arrived! Everyone got dressed up in their hired clothes and apart from having to sort
  191.  
  192. out Kevin's trousers, and the groom’s best man in a panic trying to write his speech at the last minute, they were
  193.  
  194. all ready in time. There were so many people there, it must have been a logistical nightmare, but we watched
  195.  
  196. Molly's mom and sisters (who had singlehandedly decorated the reception hall with ribbons and flowers) organize
  197.  
  198. the men and eventually achieve an evenly-spaced pattern around the hall. Kevin's best man was getting so nervous,
  199.  
  200. (more than Kevin) that a small bottle of Polish vodka did the trick and helped steady his nerves.
  201.  
  202. Once the friends and families had taken their seats, which were set almost ‘in the round’, the ushers and
  203.  
  204. bridesmaids, best man and the Matron of honor together with the groom, took up their positions facing the seated
  205.  
  206. congregation.
  207.  
  208. Suddenly, at the entrance of the church, the bride Molly appeared with her father. Everyone stood up and turned to
  209.  
  210. face them as they walked down the aisle to the usual wedding march, played by the organist. I got goosebumps at
  211.  
  212. this moment at the thought that our little dating network had made THIS possible. It was truly awesome and I
  213.  
  214. turned to hug Clare and she was already in tears, crying with tears of joy. As were about 3 other women in my row!
  215.  
  216. The congregation slowly turned to the front and was seated, and the ceremony began.
  217.  
  218. There was one hymn, ‘O Perfect Love’, the lighting of the unity candle, the normal vows, two readings, Molly's
  219.  
  220. sister Sam's two solos, communion and prayers. At the end of the wedding ceremony, with confetti being lavished on
  221.  
  222. the blushing bride and handsome groom, the wedding party lead the way back to the reception hall foyer, where
  223.  
  224. Kevin's and Molly's families formed a line and were reunited with us and their friends who all, in tears,
  225.  
  226. congratulated Kevin and Molly on becoming husband and wife. It was so beautiful, man and woman together in the
  227.  
  228. holy sanctity of marriage as God intended.
  229.  
  230. About an hour later the wedding party was ready to have their photographs taken before appearing in ‘the line’.
  231.  
  232. Once the happy couple finally left the church onto Pembroke’s quaint and cute village lawns, pink and blue
  233.  
  234. balloons were released into the sky with 2 white doves of peace. The guests were given a chance to take their
  235.  
  236. photographs of all the entourage including both parents and close relations. They were then able to go on to the
  237.  
  238. reception hall while the wedding party had the official photographs taken both in and out of the church.
  239.  
  240. Once everyone had entered the reception hall following the wedding, the last to arrive were the bride and groom
  241.  
  242. and then all the guests stood up and applauded them to their seats. Molly's family had requested that a NYC
  243.  
  244. tradition could be incorporated, so before the delicious canapes and buffet was started, Dom Pérignon Blanc and
  245.  
  246. Dom Pérignon Rosé was served and the speeches were presented together with flowers for the parents and gifts for
  247.  
  248. the bridesmaids.
  249.  
  250. They had a superb buffet set out on six mahogany long tables. It felt like being at Lancelot’s banquet from the
  251.  
  252. knights of the round table. And if such an analogy is permitted, then on this special day, Excalibur was our
  253.  
  254. dating agency, Todd and Clare. For from the love in our network, this magical day had been forged.
  255.  
  256. A Greek salad starter was followed by a main course of many choices. Hot gammon, pasta dishes, sausages in Italian
  257.  
  258. vine tomatoes plus an array of magnificent game, pheasant, duck and vegetables.
  259.  
  260. Pale pink and lime colored (almond and coconut) macaroons were set out on one of the mahogany tables and a non-
  261.  
  262. alcoholic soda was available from a fountain for the local Pembroke kids to ‘catch’ in their little plastic cups.
  263.  
  264. Everything was so colorful and certainly made a sumptuous wedding banquet.
  265.  
  266. Following lunch, Molly and Kevin's party kicked off on the dance floor. The best man had to carry out the
  267.  
  268. tradition of slipping off the bride’s white ivory garter and tossing it to the unmarried men in the room, the one
  269.  
  270. who caught it had the honor of slipping onto the thigh of the single girl who had caught the bride's bouquet which
  271.  
  272. was a hilarious scene! Following blushes, the bride then had her last dance with her new husband, Kevin — to Bill
  273.  
  274. Medley and ]ennifer Warnes’ “Now I've Had The Time Of My Life” —a real tear jerker!
  275.  
  276. Molly then danced with everyone else who in turn placed $100 dollar notes into a money bag tied to her bridal
  277.  
  278. belt, while Kevin watched on in anticipation (he actually went to the bar!)
  279.  
  280. Traditionally in Boston, this bridal money pays for their honeymoon—I was told Molly made a clean $3,000 in 30
  281.  
  282. minutes! After the dirty dancing, Kevin swept Molly up off her feet in front of her dad and carried his new bride
  283.  
  284. away to the Rolls Royce limousine taking them off to Boston Logan for their honeymoon flight to Mauna Loa, Hawaii!
  285.  
  286. Sadly it was time to go so soon, we found it very difficult to say our farewells to both Molly and Kevin's family
  287.  
  288. without a few tears.
  289.  
  290. Clare and I left Pembroke, a truly beautiful place full of wonderful people with fond and awesome memories. Molly
  291.  
  292. and Kevin were the first successfully married couple from Todd and Clare, and of the 2,999 couples who have tied
  293.  
  294. the knot since through our big city dating networks, Molly and Kevin's is one of the only two we've physically
  295.  
  296. attended.
  297.  
  298. 2 MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS
  299.  
  300. Molly and Kevin's wedding summarizes about everything that motivated myself and my wife Clare to continue
  301.  
  302. investing our personal funds into making our dating network a reality. Molly's all-American wedding proved to be
  303.  
  304. an inspirational and everlasting symbol of the happiness and joy that the Todd and Clare network has brought to
  305.  
  306. couples searching for love across America.
  307.  
  308. The blessed land where 1500km away in Indianapolis, at Gen Con 2011, this whole thing started with Clare’s idea
  309.  
  310. playing a famous board game. Neither myself or Clare could have known Gen Con, a gamers event held in downtown
  311.  
  312. Indy, would be so fruitful — but great things happen in Indianapolis! When we were first invited to go, we thought
  313.  
  314. Gen Con was just going to be like a Star Wars fans’ vacation of a lifetime. It turned out to be so much more and
  315.  
  316. it was poetic that we had our daughter Rahne present for the ride—a family outing!
  317.  
  318. Our old buddies Brad and Meghan joined the coach which left at 1.35pm; complete with Star Wars nerds and Days of
  319.  
  320. Wonder geeks all heading for Indianapolis. On the coach already were Brad's cousin, Pam, with her husband Jeff.
  321.  
  322. They were Gen Con veterans who every year made their pilgrimage to the event with the same Germerican friends that
  323.  
  324. made our well-organized tour such a fabulous occasion. Gen Con is known as the best four days in gaming!
  325.  
  326. As usual we’d left booking hotels too late and the only place we could get a room due to the popularity of Gen Con
  327.  
  328. filling all hotels in Indy in a 3 mile radius of Downtown, was at Extended Stay America near the airport. Due to
  329.  
  330. delays on the road, our coach trip was held up nearly three hours over schedule, but was quite comfortable and we
  331.  
  332. managed to sleep a little in between the various snacks, meals including tasty chicken plus kiwi and pineapple
  333.  
  334. drinks with crushed ice.
  335.  
  336. With the time difference by the time we got in Indy, the only place open was the local Waffle House at
  337.  
  338. Indianapolis airport where (after the coach driver got lost on the complex networks of roads into Lynhurst drive)
  339.  
  340. we ate grits at 2am in the morning. We shared a bottle of white wine chardonnay when we reached our hotel room,
  341.  
  342. and looked forwards to Gen Con’s start in the morning.
  343.  
  344. The next morning our friends were up bright and early for breakfast, and we ate at Harry and Izzy's downtown
  345.  
  346. before heading into the Indianapolis Convention Center. The crowds were fantastic, with the guy who dressed up as
  347.  
  348. Darth Vader rocking with a Magic the Gathering swordsman and a Pippi Longstocking fan!
  349.  
  350. It you haven't experienced Gen Con, it is Times Square for Gamers; a sensory good feelin’ mix of fun, cosplay, and
  351.  
  352. thousands of vendors spread out from the main halls to side rooms, with their creative card decks and amazing
  353.  
  354. booths.
  355.  
  356. They ask passing crowds of gamer fans to stop to demo their personally-invented games that range from gothic
  357.  
  358. romance themes to superhero battles. Dice, cloaks, daggers, and pretty much anything gaming-related is on display
  359.  
  360. here with the most fantastic Magic artistry we had ever seen. Gen Con is a must-go adventure for every American
  361.  
  362. family!
  363.  
  364. After entering the main convention area, stopping by the Pokemon fan booth, in the sensory overload our tour party
  365.  
  366. stumbled past this young blind boy who was dressed up in a Star Trek uniform with his assistive golden Labrador
  367.  
  368. guide dog, whom he was calling Toby.
  369.  
  370. The boy’s parents were playing at a colorful booth, Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, an interesting board
  371.  
  372. game based on the book of the same title. Among listening to the boy talking aloud to Toby, we sat down to learn
  373.  
  374. the rules, and began playing. It was during the opening game play, with the board game’s focus on matters of the
  375.  
  376. heart, that Clare was inspired with the idea for a dating agency. She recalls her inspiration was a network “based
  377.  
  378. around our friends’ emails” as a way to help people we know who are looking for love.
  379.  
  380. My wife Clare is a natural inventor, and as a teacher who loves counterfactual history—she would often ponder what
  381.  
  382. “would might have been” had someone good she knows from her present, got together with someone good she’d known in
  383.  
  384. her past. For instance, a work colleague with one of her girlfriends she’d known from college.
  385.  
  386. The premise was as follows. What if there was a dating site that enabled friend-to-friend romantic referrals,
  387.  
  388. localizing by city, and centered around young women. It would be fair to say girls discuss romance and love
  389.  
  390. matches more than men in their social chat. A network based on girls helping other girls find love would be so
  391.  
  392. much more real than a generic site, because it’s based on friend connections. Clare’s dating idea would mean that
  393.  
  394. when you're matched, it would feel like you had actually been introduced to your partner through a friend, like
  395.  
  396. what happened in past American times when friends got together in small towns.
  397.  
  398. It is our firm conviction that the vast overwhelming majority of Americans are good people, whatever individual
  399.  
  400. perspective they're approaching life from. So, in the same way you see a doctor through recommendation, meeting an
  401.  
  402. American through a friend network, would be the kind of ultimate recommendation that could really protect the
  403.  
  404. family unit, and most importantly, make new families happen.
  405.  
  406. Clare always enjoyed matchmaking, even at college. With her idea at Gen Con, this would be a way to physically
  407.  
  408. materialize a social connection, through friends, that would never have otherwise happened. To give you an
  409.  
  410. arbitrary example, Clare could see, for instance, that her work colleague, Bill, who was a math teacher and single
  411.  
  412. guy looking for love, would likely be a compatible match for her single friend, Janet, who she knew from another
  413.  
  414. part of her life but who lived in the same city as Bill. If a dating site that she could invite both Bill and
  415.  
  416. Janet to join, with her mutual recommendation, they would be on solid ground if and only if they found each other
  417.  
  418. attractive enough to want to meet up to see if there was any chemistry. Clare’s idea sounds overly simplistic at
  419.  
  420. first, but what if we roll that idea out to American women doing this on a mass scale. “Friend referrals” for love
  421.  
  422. happening all over the states, every day, in a continuous, frequent pattern that would make dating suggestions by
  423.  
  424. your friends resemble a national air traffic control map etched out in the night sky.
  425.  
  426. One of the problems Clare’s idea solves is that usually, in work contexts, most American women feel awkward about
  427.  
  428. making a romantic suggestion in the workplace one just couldn't feel comfortable saying to a colleague over lunch
  429.  
  430. or in a Starbucks queue, “hey, you’d make an awesome couple with this friend of mine who I haven't seen in a year
  431.  
  432. who I think you’d really
  433. like, etc.” Female intuition maybe an intangible, powerful force, but realities take over. Standards of behavior
  434.  
  435. and expectations of working with male colleagues (and even male friends) push out in most scenarios a natural
  436.  
  437. discourse for the kind of “friend’s love referral” that Todd and Clare standardize.
  438.  
  439. Even back in 2011 at time when the country was still hurting with recession, I could see Clare’s idea would likely
  440.  
  441. have real resonance with online daters. A dating network, mediated by the convenience of email or texts, where
  442.  
  443. everyone who joins is already verified as real because they're friends of friends; someone already knows them. A
  444.  
  445. dating network where good people connect casually offline, on the recommendation of mutual friends in their real
  446.  
  447. world. When you follow any such matching of two people like that through to conclusion—it’s easy to see that my
  448.  
  449. wife had tackled a problem that could really help people’s love lives. A cool and practicable way of modern
  450.  
  451. matchmaking—through your own friends’ network extended out by secondary and tertiary connections.
  452.  
  453. That in a nutshell, is what my wife envisioned by playing the Men is From Mars, Women are From Venus board game at
  454.  
  455. Gen Con.
  456.  
  457. Sitting in the passenger seat of our hire car drinking soda, she divulged her thoughts to me as we drove back to
  458.  
  459. the Extended Stay hotel at the edge of the city after the first day of Gen Con.
  460.  
  461. It sounded neat then, and appropriately, the mellow sounds of Mark Knopfler’s guitar masterpiece in Dire Strait’s
  462.  
  463. Tunnel of Love was playing out on low volume in the background on our car radio as we drove out of the city into
  464.  
  465. rural Indy. I told her not to tell anyone, and went to an Applebee's for dinner.
  466.  
  467. We spent ages in our hotel room that night after putting Rahne to bed discussing the viability of such a network.
  468.  
  469. Clare had to fulfil a long term contract for a fall-semester with her ESL teaching job in Tenerife in the Canary
  470.  
  471. Islands later that year, so even if we did want to do something about this email verified network, it would have
  472.  
  473. to wait until at least December.
  474.  
  475. Besides there were a myriad of questions and challenges about how such a site should be structured. Clare decided
  476.  
  477. that to ensure the “verified friends” effect is passed on through the network, no matter how big it grows, some
  478.  
  479. kind of Skype or video-call verification service would have to be in practice to ensure that even a tertiary
  480.  
  481. friend connection is real and that the system can’t be abused.
  482.  
  483. Challenges were of course ahead, but the verified ground work and invited friends foundation on which Todd and
  484.  
  485. Clare would be based was already laid by talking it through and we were both excited as to how this would unfold.
  486. That night, in Indy, we went to sleep more at peace with God.
  487.  
  488. 3 CHATEAU DU LUDE—C’EST MAGNIFIQUE!
  489.  
  490. In December 2011, Clare began to reach out to her existing contact network, about 1,900 women friends, to begin
  491.  
  492. putting the first cogs into motion of what would later become
  493. Todd and Clare. With her ESL jobs over the past 10 years since the Irq war began taking us everywhere from Tokyo,
  494.  
  495. Japan to Paris, France to a township in the Republic of South Africa, I had already accompanied Clare on a very
  496.  
  497. diverse life, and this dating network was yet another twist.
  498.  
  499. Our only daughter, Rahne, was born in Berlin due to Clare’s teaching position in Germany at the time, so the 1,900
  500.  
  501. “ 1st connections” friends that Clare used to start the network was already impressive by any standard. More
  502.  
  503. impressive though was the spirit of good will and universality that women she hadn’t seen for years responded to
  504.  
  505. her idea with acceptance and positive love.
  506.  
  507. Spurred on by their love, and with Christ's love filling our hearts, Clare and myself took our first steps in
  508.  
  509. building our network for friends.
  510.  
  511. Being exacting and rigorous about Skype interviewing all “2nd and 3rd connections” who joined the network, we
  512.  
  513. found the verified part to be one of the key tenets to the network's original success. The proof was in the
  514.  
  515. pudding; Molly and Kevin's wedding was followed by a kaleidoscope of wedding announcements through 2013, 2014 and
  516.  
  517. 2015—all couples meeting through our network. It wasn’t long before we were invited to another marriage
  518.  
  519. attendance, this one through our Paris network, and an all French affair.
  520.  
  521. Staying in England with Clare’s brother, Matt, we were thrilled to get the chance to go to France to attend the
  522.  
  523. wedding of Francoise and Pierre who had met through Todd and Clare’s Paris email network. We caught the ferry from
  524.  
  525. Portsmouth to Cherbourg with Matt's 4x4 Ford truck and caravan, missing our chance to take the channel tunnel from
  526.  
  527. Waterloo station. When
  528. we arrived in Cherbourg in Northern France, after buying supplies from the local Supermarché we ventured to the
  529.  
  530. St. Martin D’aubigny.
  531.  
  532. The site had wifi and we booked in for the nights settling down to enjoy some of the finest rump steaks we’d
  533.  
  534. tasted since San Francisco. That evening, amidst news of more couples getting engaged, we got engrossed looking at
  535.  
  536. a local graveyard with stones dating back to 1800s, adorned with history.
  537.  
  538. On the way to the wedding the next morning, we stopped in a cute little village called Marigny, where we were able
  539.  
  540. to have the traditional “French experience” buying local produce slices of home-cooked “jambon” ham and a baguette
  541.  
  542. before going off to explore the Chateau du
  543. Lude, where the marriage preparations were already well underway.
  544.  
  545. It’s fair to say we were treated as minor celebrities, with all Francois and Pierre’s friends congratulating us on
  546.  
  547. bringing them together. Lily flowers decorated the marquees and the opulent grounds to perfection.
  548.  
  549. Pierre’s brother, Michel, acted as our tour guide around the Chateau du Lude. The grounds were as stunning as
  550.  
  551. Versailles, and tranquil, and after lunch which was sumptuous affair with escargots we were taken around the
  552.  
  553. Chateau, with its French marble floors, sculptured statues and gold leaf emblems. This was one of the positives of
  554.  
  555. visiting France in the autumn we're told, the campsites begin to wind down at the beginning of September, and the
  556. pools are the first amenity to close, ensuring that the chateaus of Northern France aren't overrun with tourists.
  557.  
  558. Chateau du Lude had survived many wars and ownerships and was a real treat to see how it had been preserved; a
  559.  
  560. fitting place for the blushing bride and her groom to marry. Later on in the day, the weather became unsettled and
  561.  
  562. we soon experienced a severe short-lived electric storm that meant the wedding had to go ahead in the rain.
  563.  
  564. We took our seats with the guests and waited for the bride to emerge; Francoise and all her bridesmaids looked
  565.  
  566. beautiful in their traditional lace gowns, like something out of a Cannes film night. Due to all the showers they
  567.  
  568. tied the knot at twilight, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
  569.  
  570. The palatial setting was perfect. Chateau du Lude was a triumph. In the morning, we were ready to leave the site
  571.  
  572. by 10.00am after watching the married couple go off to their honeymoon in St Tropez. We made our way back to
  573.  
  574. Cherbourg via St-Lo, Mayenne, Flers, Domfront and Vire, where we stopped for lunch outside the beautiful old
  575.  
  576. church courtyard. We finally arrived at Camping Les Pins in Cherbourg. It was once again a municipal site with
  577.  
  578. adequate amenities and very good value even for euros. We visited the local superstore — Auchan — where we were
  579.  
  580. fortunate enough to run into one of the guests from the wedding who had told all his friends about Todd and
  581.  
  582. Clare... it’s a small world! The wedding network was already growing by word of mouth. It was then in Cherbourg,
  583.  
  584. while we prepared a pick nick of large fresh shrimps (crevettes), camembert cheeses and cold meats with our last
  585.  
  586. baguette of the vacation, followed by tarte frais (strawberry tarts) with Loire Valley wine, that we got word of
  587.  
  588. another couple getting engaged by the Todd and Clare network on our iPhone, this time in Chicago.
  589.  
  590. Another couple, another success story!
  591.  
  592. As they say in France, “Il ne pleut jamais, mais il verse” which means, it never rains but it pours.
  593.  
  594. 4 3,001 COUPLES AND COUNTING
  595.  
  596. By summer 2015, over 3,000 couples had met and married through our network. Back home in San Francisco, Clare and
  597.  
  598. myself made our pact at Tadich’s grill to put this email network on the internet and continue verifying single
  599.  
  600. women who join through friends of friends of friends.
  601.  
  602. Although, regrettably, with Clare’s hard working job as a dedicated ESL teacher we won’t have the time to put in
  603.  
  604. an appearance at everyone’s wedding who married through our network—as we walk along the Golden Gate promenade at
  605.  
  606. the crack of dawn and see the success of the network grow day by day—we feel in our hearts that our journey has a
  607.  
  608. long way to go.
  609.  
  610. If you're looking for love, we invite you to be part of that journey, by searching for your long term partner at
  611.  
  612. ToddandClare.com.
  613.  
  614. Peace. Todd and Clare H.
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